Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants, Part IV

Four places to try and one to avoid.

Published December 18, 2013 in Hole in the Wall - MetroJacksonville.com

The Donut Shoppe

One of two things happen when you walk into a Jacksonville restaurant that's been around for several decades. Either you walk away with a sense disillusionment: "How are they still in business? This place is terrible!" or it all makes sense: "Man, I wish I could have tried this place in the 1950s when Grandmother Jones was still around"-- and usually it's the former.

The Donut Shoppe "has been open since 1962 and is currently owned by David Unkelbach. We have 17 varietys of donuts [misspelling theirs]." It's institutional feeling but clean. Kind of like Unkelback bought a clinic in the 1960s and turned it into a donut "shoppe." But that feel is exactly what makes this place kind of awesome. That and their donuts.

They won me over after I tried one of their old fashioned cake donuts. It was fresh out of the fryer, not too sugary and had that "Oh my God, this is incredible. I need to leave immediately so I don't buy six more and eat them one after the other" kind of euphoria that happens when you eat a successfully deep fried doughy amalgamation with the right amount of sweetness.

For those who love sugar bomb donuts, they have plenty of those to try. Of course, they have coffee and they have "cappuccino" and "hot chocolate." That's a little joke because, you know, it's one of those gas station machines that serves the cappuccino.

This place is worth trying and everything about it gives it that "I'm happy to be here" feel.

Couple of pointers: The coconut donut = Yes, you should do this. Don't go with out cash. Although there is an ATM in the shoppe.

1535 University Blvd N
Jacksonville, FL 32211
(904) 743-1844

Tue-Sun 5 am - 1 pm

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This picture doesn't do the food justice.

Clara's at the Cathedral

You have one two hour opportunity, 11AM to 1PM, every Friday to try Clara's at the Cathedral at the St. John's Cathedral downtown.

The weekly event is organized by Clara White Mission, which has such a deeply connected and amazing history.

Their food is served buffet style and the menu changes every week. I had the opportunity to visit just before Thanksgiving. So, of course, it was a Thanksgiving theme.

Turkey was moist.

One of the best stuffings I have had.

Gravy was smooth and delicious.  

The cathedral is beautiful with high and arched wooden ceilings...which makes the food that much more enjoyable.

$10 gets you a in. Link to Weekly Menu

Read Clara White's Mission history here.
More about St. John's Cathedral.

St. John's Cathedral
256 E. Church St.
Jacksonville, FL 32202

Fri 11 am - 1 pm

Mi Tierra

First, find the right door to enter. There are about half a dozen. Some are locked and some aren't.

If you decide to go to the grocery store you should know it's a little messy over there but the grocery store is where you get to order some very tasty chicharones. It's also where you will see the the cooking happening (which is clean and organized).

The tacos were awesome but like most taco places in jax the meat was a bit dry. The tortillas are doubled up and the salsa that comes with it complements all of the elements very well. I love beef tongue and when it's in a corn tortilla with fresh cilantro and raw onions my day is exponentially better.

My suggestion: don't eat a pound of the chicharones. That's rarely a good idea even when they are good.


I'm not sure if you can call Kabob-e a "hole in the wall"... I don't care.

It's so rare to go to a Jacksonville restaurant and eat chicken, let alone a kabob, that is not over cooked and flavored well. At Kabob-e the flavors of the marinade have made their way through the chicken pieces. Ground beef (koufta) kabobs are cooked and flavored well too and I think it's seasoned with a bit of clove. I can't remember if it was clove, nutmeg or... maybe it was cinnamon. Whatever it was it was good. The lamb kabob still needs some work. It's a little tough.

The gyro is huge... well, I ordered double meat.

Plus, the owners are pleasant and so hospitable. As we were waiting for our large to go order a table near us received their order. We couldn't stop eyeing their appetizer plate. The mother, who was sitting with her three kids, who turned out to be one of the owners, put a few of the freshly made sambosas on a plate and brought them over to us to try.

11915 Beach Blvd
Ste 112
Jacksonville, FL 32246
(904) 646-4477

Mon-Thurs 11AM – 9PM
Fri-Sun      11AM – 10pm

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Mi Veracruz

I went through a lot of internal debate before I decided to include the restaurant that was disappointing. The cooking failed to impress, totally.

The shredded beef in the quesadilla was way too salty. The chicken was lacking in any type of flavor and it way too dry, same with the steak. The ground beef in the burrito was reminiscent of something you get from a school cafeteria. That part grossed me out. It just did not work well with the beans and I can't imagine it being good solo either.  

We knew we were headed towards not so good food when the chips came. They were freshly fried but each chip left a slight film in our mouth. It was like they were using fresh poured motor oil.  

It's a shame. I loved the feel of the place. It's was reminiscent of a Mexican Waffle House... just not as good as you would imagine. I'm hoping it was a bad night with a new cook.

Oh, the salsa was tasty. That's something.

3109 spring park rd
Jacksonville, FL 32207
Neighborhood: Southside
Mon-Fri 11 am - 9 pm
Sat 9 am - 9 pm
Sun 9 am - 8 pm

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Article by Arash Kamiar

More "Hole in the Wall" restaurant articles on the next page.

Related "Hole in the Wall" Articles:

Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants, Part 1

Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants, Part 2

Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants, Part 3

Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants, Part 4

Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants, Part 5

Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants, Part 6

Jacksonville's Hole in the Wall Restaurants, Part 7

Check out Stephen Dare's "A Chef's List for Dining In Jacksonville."

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2013-dec-jacksonvilles-hole-in-the-wall-restaurants-part-iv

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